Business travel news this week includes an announcement from Avis about some customer-friendly enhancements to its mobile app; a summer expansion of enrollment centers for TSA PreCheck membership; and the outlook for business travel volume this year and next – and who has overtaken the U.S. as the busiest business travel market.
Members of the Avis Preferred loyalty program (which is free to join) can now take advantage of new customer features on the company’s mobile app, which is available to them for iOS and Android devices. The bundle of new features, called Avis Now, includes the ability to review and change the user’s assigned vehicle at any time, based on real-time car availability; extend, cancel or confirm a reservation; flash the assigned car’s headlights to help find it on the lot, and lock or unlock its doors from the app; and return the vehicle without help from an agent. Users can also see their rental agreement, confirm fuel or mileage and get assistance on demand. The app is currently available for use at more than 50 U.S. locations, and will be expanded to some international markets in the months ahead, Avis said. (See video here)
Faced with a growing backlog of applications for its PreCheck trusted traveler program, the Transportation Security Administration and the outside vendor that operates PreCheck enrollment centers are opening up a number of new, temporary opportunities for applicants this summer, from now through late August. The temporary enrollment centers will be at 14 locations in 13 major markets, and will mostly be open for only a few days at each one. You can see the full schedule of locations and dates here, along with a link to a site for applying online and getting an appointment for a personal visit.
Is business travel in a slump? The Global Business Travel Association says it expects U.S. business travel spending to increase by a mere 0.9 percent this year, to $292.5 billion – but it foresees a big rebound in 2017, with a spending increase of 4.2 percent, to $304.9 billion. “When growth does re-accelerate, companies must be ready with the newest technologies, the most productive workforce and the critical customer relationships necessary to take full advantage,” said GBTA Executive Director Michael McCormick. The U.S. has been lagging behind worldwide growth levels, which posted a 5 percent spending gain in 2015, GBTA said; worldwide, global business travel spending is expected to increase by 5.8 percent annually for the next five years, to a total of $1.6 trillion in 2020. Last year, GBTA said, China surpassed the U.S. in the rankings, with business travel spending of $291.2 billion vs. $289.8 billion for the U.S.
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